Kauaʻi Community College joined the world to officially celebrate Earth Day 2016 April 22. Weather conditions were perfect for the college to honor the occasion as winds softly moved through kukui, avocado, mountain apple and flowering trees under a gentle cloud-filled sky.
Faculty, staff, and students from the Sustainability Club teamed up to clear thick brush and water ditches, built by Grove Farm in the plantation days, to make way for the installation of a Hydro Electrical Turbine Station, an electricity generation site, as reported by KCC staff.
The idea for the project, part of KCC’s alternate and renewable energy initiatives, was ignited by work done by Keiichiro Yamamoto, professor from the National Institute of Technology Toyama College, during his sabbatical at KCC. Electricity generated by water will be stored in a battery that can be taken and used anywhere. Initial plans are to feed power to the KCC’s Hawaiian Studies Program Loʻi to fulfill its energy needs.
GoFarm Hawaiʻi @Kauaʻi CC loaned its farming tools to cut thick patches of grass and turn soil. Gary Ellwood, marketing and outreach coordinator and Dawn Wooten, special projects coordinator, hauled piles of debris to the chipper operated by Justin Carvalho, KCC faculty member and Sustainability Club advisor, and Eric Hansen, GoFarm Hawaiʻi @Kauaʻi CC coordinator.
Hawaiian Studies faculty member Molly Summers with students Livingston Rowen and Rosie Sanders were immersed in the thick shrub with their cutting tools. Rowen is focusing his studies on sustainability and Plant Bioscience Technology, with a dream to build a sustainability-related business on Kauaʻi.
KCC received a gift from a donor to support the development of alternative renewable energy courses to meet the growing needs of the community. Instructor Daniel Erickson has focused on researching the use of alternative energy, producing methods such as hydroelectric turbines, wind energy, biodiesel and wood chippers, biodiesel reactors, and a perception project. KCC student Sam Scala will assist in conducting and documenting the research.
“We’re excited to demonstrate renewable energy technologies and use Earth Day 2016 to springboard our initiatives especially as it integrates energy production with the production of the taro, kukui nuts, mountain apples, and koa trees being grown on campus by Hawaiian Studies,” Erickson said in a press release.
Carvalho said he is proud of the students and eager to support their aspirations.
“Kauaʻi is our home and we are committed to protecting and nourishing it for now and the future,” Carvalho said. “I am inspired by the plans our students are making to build a healthy Kauaʻi, and the way we are re-purposing water ditches dug, by hand, during the island’s time of the big plantations, and using our rich history as we build a better future for the island.”
Cool water flowed smoothly through the clean ditches and the land was cleared. A potluck lunch was prepared and enjoyed by all after a good day’s work.